image of Editor
By Michael Brown

Senior Staff Writer

22 September 2023

| | 2 min read

Newcastle and Gelsenkirchen celebrate 75 years of twinning arrangement

Schoolchildren in Newcastle and Germany’s Gelsenkirchen have been taking part in activities to celebrate 75 years of a twinning arrangement between the two cities.

Newcastle and Gelsenkirchen in Germany’s western North Rhine-Westphalia region have proudly held a twinning arrangement since 1948 when the two cities were drawn to one another by their close association with the coal industry.

In the 75 years since, the industries and nature of both cities have changed significantly, but the close cultural connections have remained strong.

To mark the milestone anniversary, English Martyrs’ Catholic Primary School held an exchange programme with Gelsenkirchen’s Rainbow School in June where children both schools produced a range of artwork celebrating the cities’ close links. Headteacher Anthony Kennedy and two teaching staff also travelled to the German city to visit English Martyrs’ new partner school.

The link was set up with the help of Declan Baharini from International Newcastle and Sarah Edgar from the council’s School Effectiveness team, as part of their support for schools to develop international links and widen opportunities for the city’s children and young people. 

International Newcastle also supported English Martyrs’ to apply for funding from UK German Connection to fund the visit. They will be working together to apply for funding for a return visit of Rainbow School staff and then further visits of pupils and staff to Newcastle and Gelsenkirchen in 2024.

In August, 99 students and eight teachers from Gelsenkirchen's Leibniz Gymnasium secondary school travelled to Newcastle as a part of a wider trip to the UK. The visit was co-ordinated by International Newcastle. The visitors were given a civic reception from Lord Mayor Cllr Veronica Dunn and also enjoyed a tour of the city taking in sights including St James’ Park and The Hancock Museum. The trip was also an opportunity for Head Teacher, Michael Scharnowski, to meet in person with Live Youth Theatre and work with International Newcastle to set up a youth drama exchange between the two cities.  They will be supported by International Newcastle to access funding for a staff visit in December and youth drama exchanges in the spring between the two countries.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Nick Kemp said, “Our international links across the world are really important for sharing cultures, expanding business and improving education.

“We’re proud of the relationships we have with towns and cities on a range of continents, and our connection with Gelsenkirchen is one of Newcastle’s oldest arrangements.

“It’s brilliant to see our communities coming together 75 years on, and I look forward to these relationships continuing to grow and flourish.”

Gelsenkirchen is home to approximately 260,000 residents and has a diverse local economy. It is home to Germany’s largest solar power plant. 

Newcastle has twinning arrangements with cities across the world in addition to Gelsenkirchen. These include Atlanta, USA, Bergen, Norway, and Nancy, France.


In addition, International Newcastle and the council’s School Effectiveness team have supported schools in the city to develop 60 new international school partnerships and helped schools to access over £1m from the UK Government’s Turing Scheme (2021-23). 16 international visits of teachers and children have taken place in 2022 and 2023 and another 9 are funded for next year.  These include visits to schools and cities in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Dubai, India and Turkey. 

Declan Baharini, Director of International Newcastle said, “Building international school and youth partnerships, embedding internationalism within the curriculum and enabling children to work virtually together and to go on fully funded visits abroad can be life-changing for all involved - raising aspirations, widening perspectives and building skills for the future.” 

Children's artwork celebrating 75 years of twinning between Newcastle and Gelsenkirchen